When I first started my research on electric cars I was pretty damn well set on a Nissan Leaf. They’re popular and that popularity should come from them being reliable cars. We had a few nearby, and I think there was one in Madison about 50 miles from where we live. Part of the problem with electric cars is they have limited range; we’d have to buy a car close enough to actually drive home, or we would have to find a place to charge it enroute. You might be thinking that the range limitation is an issue and not a good reason to buy the car in the first place but it’s a manageable downside. The Leafs we found were around $10,000 and some even lower around $7,000. They had ranges anywhere from 35,000 miles down to 20,000 miles. They seemed like a good deal.
The one downside about the Leaf seems to be its lack of a battery cooling system. Some Leafs in really hot areas like Arizona have had some noticeable range degradation to them. As you might know from owning a cell phone, using the battery heavily causes it to heat up. That heat is bad for the battery. I figured that since we live in Illinois we shouldn’t have heat like Arizona and the battery degradation would be a non-issue, or at least not as bad. Another bonus for not having a battery cooling system is in the reduced complexity of a car. The way I see it by not having a cooling system there was simply less to go wrong.
The Leaf was fine for me but my wife had one glaring problem with the car: it’s ugly as hell. She wasn’t wrong, it’s that I didn’t mind the look of the thing as long as it worked. But it would also be her car so I couldn’t argue too much about it. She had a point that car makers tried a bit too hard to make electric cars “look electric” so they end up looking strange, futuristic, or just plain ugly. So it was a no for the Leaf because it’s ugly.
The Tesla Model S was our dream electric car but the price of it was way out of our range. Too bad too because the car looks cool as hell.
There was also an electric car that I never heard of before by Mitsubishi called the i-MiEV. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced either. The car has acceptable range and is pretty underpowered and this review right here is pretty hilarious to read, check it out sometime as the guy ended up liking the car quite a bit. But take a look at the car: it’s uglier than the Leaf.
I shown the picture of the car to my wife. It was obvious she wouldn’t be caught inside that car ever. There wasn’t any nearby anyways…
Somehow I stumbled upon the fact that Ford produces an all-electric version of their Ford Focus. I didn’t know that and everyone I’ve talked to since owning one didn’t know either. “There’s an electric Ford Focus?” they’d usually ask. And I’d say “Yup.”
It has a range of about 75 miles, and has decent reviews. If anything you could gripe to Ford about not marketing the car better. It seems to be a “compliance car” — a car only manufactured because the government said that car fleets have to be above a certain fuel efficiency or something. The Ford Focus Electric is just what it sound like: a stock Focus with an electric motor. They removed the gas tank and stuck some batteries in its place and also stuck some batteries in the hatchback of the car. There isn’t a lot of storage space.
The car being a stock Focus body helped me sell the thing to my wife. It looked like a normal car and the only giveaway that it was electric was the Electric badge on the back and sides as well as the charging port near the front door. Otherwise it was just a normal gasoline looking car.
We found two at a dealer in Carol Stream, a suburb of Chicago. This dealership was about 65 to 75 miles away so the car should, should, be driveable all the way back home. There also seemed to be a ton of charging stations in Elgin, about 20 miles on the way home. We could charge there if we needed too. The two Focuses they had was a 2013 at 25,000 miles and a 2012 at 29,000 miles. The 29,000 mile vehicle was slightly cheaper at $9,000 compared to the 25,000 mile one at $10,000. We decided to head there to check them out. On paper the car seemed cool so we’d go and check for any glaring issues and pick one up.